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Nakasone’s Party Appears Strong in Local Voting Results

April 26, 1987

TOKYO (AP) _ Japanese voted in local elections Sunday that were seen as another test of the popularity of Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and early returns ran in his party’s favor, officials said.

Voters cast ballots for mayors in 420 cities and towns, and for members of hundreds of village assemblies, said Naofumi Hida of the Ministry of Home Affairs Election Division. In addition, 382 mayors ran uncontested.

Most candidates were independents, supported by Nakasone’s conservative Liberal-Democratic Party, the Socialist party or a combination of Nakasone’s party and two centrist parties - the Democratic Socialists and the Komeito, or Clean Government Party.

By late Sunday night, 41 of the mayoral candidates backed by Nakasone’s party and the centrists were declared winners. One Liberal-Democratic Party candidate also was declared a winner.

There were no immediate victories for either the Socialist Party or the Communist Party.

The elections were seen as a measure of Nakasone’s ability to buoy his sinking political popularity. In nationwide prefectural elections two weeks ago, Nakasone’s party lost two key governorships and also suffered in many prefectural, or provincial, assemblies.

The Liberal Democrats’ setbacks in those elections were attributed mainly to a 5 percent sales tax proposed by Nakasone as a part of a tax reform package that included personal and corporate income tax cuts.

Last week, however, the party shelved the proposed sales tax plan to persuade opposition parties to approve the budget for fiscal 1987, which began April 1.

Nakasone was hoping for a political boost from Sunday’s elections before he leaves Wednesday for talks on trade with President Reagan in Washington.

The Reagan administration on April 17 imposed $300 million worth of tariffs on some Japanese electronic goods in retaliation for what the United States claimed was a violation of a semiconductor pact. Japan has denied the allegations.

Under the bilateral accord signed in 1986, Japan agreed to stop selling computer memory chips at unfairly low prices and to further open its markets.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 6 p.m. in 2,508 cities, towns and villages. Counting began immediately in some places, but was not scheduled to start until later Monday morning in Tokyo, Osaka and other major cities.

Final tallies will be announced Tuesday, Hida said.

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